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. 1999 Aug;58(3):681-3.
doi: 10.1017/s0029665199000890.

Nutrition and Immunology: From the Clinic to Cellular Biology and Back Again


Nutrition and Immunology: From the Clinic to Cellular Biology and Back Again

R K Chandra. Proc Nutr Soc. .


Diet and immunity have been known to be linked to each other for centuries. In the last 30 years systematic studies have confirmed that nutrient deficiencies impair immune response and lead to frequent severe infections resulting in increased mortality, especially in children. Protein-energy malnutrition results in reduced number and functions of T-cells, phagocytic cells and secretory immunoglobulin A antibody response. In addition, levels of many complement components are reduced. Similar findings have been reported for moderate deficiencies of individual nutrients such as trace minerals and vitamins, particularly Zn, Fe, Se, vitamins A, B6, C and E. For example, Zn deficiency is associated with profound impairment of cell-mediated immunity such as lymphocyte stimulation response, decreased CD4+:CD8+ cells, and decreased chemotaxis of phagocytes. In addition, the level of thymulin, which is a Zn-dependent hormone, is markedly decreased. The use of nutrient supplements, singly or in combination, stimulates immune response and may result in fewer infections, particularly in the elderly, low-birth-weight infants and malnourished critically-ill patients in hospitals. The interactions between nutrition and the immune system are of clinical, practical and public health importance.

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